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Guide Your Canoe Part 2

“We were talking about balancing the power in the team, James,” I said.

“Right,” he said pausing a moment to bring his mind back to that moment a few weeks ago. “In paddling this means that everyone has to put their oars in the water at the same time and come out of the water at the same time.

“And here’s the point,” he said. “If you balance the power, the steersman doesn’t have to steer.” James’ voice was near a whisper again.

“Help me understand that in context,” I replied.

His eyes lit up. “When you balance the power it allows the steersman to paddle with the team so that the team can pull ahead in the race.”

“It’s the same in a high performance business team. If the team works well and blends together the leader doesn’t have to spend time managing the team.”

“Exactly,” he said. “In a well trained paddling team the team blends and becomes one. A team that manages itself is unbeatable.”

He paused reflectively and leaned closer to me as he whispered, “But here’s the heart of the secret of a great paddling team. Every member of the team has to feel the mana (energy and spirit) of the ocean, feel the current, and feel what the boat is doing. Then each person has to discern what he or she needs to do to get the boat to the finish line. Everyone has to be in touch with it all and become one with the mana of the boat. If you take care of your boat, your boat in turn, will care for you.”

So there is is from a master Hawaiian paddler and trainer. I think the metaphor speaks for itself. Thank you, James Stupplebeen for the lesson in leadership and team!

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